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Knox Gear 48 Quart Review

Handy to use, but it doesn’t eliminate your dependency on ice
Knox Gear 48 Quart
Credit: Amazon
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Price:  $190 List
Pros:  Easy to use, has wheels, cool cord storage, energy efficient, relatively inexpensive
Cons:  Short cords, doesn’t reach very cold/hot temperatures, still need to use ice
Manufacturer:   Knox Gear
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 16, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
50
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Temperature Control - 25% 4.0
  • Insulation - 25% 3.0
  • Energy Consumption - 20% 6.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6.0
  • Portability - 10% 8.0
  • Features - 5% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Knox Gear 48 Quart is quite nice to use, with its wheels, built-in cord storage, and energy efficiency. It's less expensive compared to similar products, but it very much still requires ice to work well. If you're willing to keep using ice but want an extra boost for your efforts, the Knox can lend a helping hand.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Knox Gear 48 Quart
This Product
Knox Gear 48 Quart
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award   
Price $190 List$464 List
$329.99 at Amazon
$240 List
$219.99 at Amazon
$50 List
$59.95 at Amazon
$100 List
$99.75 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Easy to use, has wheels, cool cord storage, energy efficient, relatively inexpensiveVery energy efficient, relatively inexpensive, impressive minimum temperature, surprisingly lightweight, long cordLargest temperature range, good insulation, lightweight, few moving parts, can be used as a chest or standing upSuper portable, very quiet, can be cold or hot, pretty low energy usageDecent temperature control, easily portable, ergonomic shape, convenient size
Cons Short cords, doesn’t reach very cold/hot temperatures, still need to use iceNot durable, takes a long time to cool, insulation not great, fairly loudNo AC cord included, not the most durable, energy hogCan't control temperature, not the best seal, USB can't be used in computer, plastic hinges, unknown longevitySmall interior, not great insulation, oddly shaped inside
Bottom Line Handy to use, but it doesn’t eliminate your dependency on iceIf you're on a tighter budget but still want mid-level performance, we recommend this modelAn impressive temperature range from this lightweight, no-frills thermoelectric cooler (and heater)Quiet and tiny, this is a decent personal cooler, though with several limitationsA small cooler that heats and cools, with a handy shape to be an armrest and convenient strap to tote it around
Rating Categories Knox Gear 48 Quart Costway 54 Koolatron Portable 45 Cooluli Mini Fridge Wagan 12V 14 Liter...
Temperature Control (25%)
4.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Insulation (25%)
3.0
5.0
4.0
2.0
2.0
Energy Consumption (20%)
6.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
4.0
Ease of Use (15%)
6.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
Portability (10%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Features (5%)
6.0
6.0
4.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Knox Gear 48 Quart Costway 54 Koolatron Portable 45 Cooluli Mini Fridge Wagan 12V 14 Liter...
Minimum Temperature Achieved (F) 27.2ºF below ambient -8.9ºF 38.2ºF below ambient 32.4ºF below ambient 36.45ºF below ambient
Temperature Increase in 36 Hours Unplugged (F) 11.5ºF 27.9ºF 9.9ºF 26.6ºF 30.6ºF
Power Draw in Watts (cooling) 46.1 W 50.0 W
38.9 W (eco)
62.3 W 33.9 W 56.8 W
Power Draw in Watts (steady) N/A 1.0 W N/A N/A N/A
Power Draw in Watts (heating) 39.0 W N/A 48.1 W 29.7 W 45.6 W
Voltage Use (cooling) 11.90 V 13.47 V 13.29 V 13.84 V 13.26 V
Amperage Use (cooling) 3.88 A 3.72 A 4.69 A 2.45 A 4.34 A
Hours to Cool (measured) >12 hrs 9.5 hrs >12 hrs 20.5 hrs 28.5 hrs
Maximum Temperature Achieved (F) 103.1ºF N/A 130.8ºF 136.0ºF 137.3ºF
Temperature Accuracy (diff btwn display and actual) N/A +/- 3.8ºF N/A N/A N/A
Weight 14.4 lb 34 lb 14.2 lb 3.7 lb 8.4 lb
Claimed Capacity (volume) 45.4 L
48 quarts
51.1 L
54 quarts
43 L
45 quarts
4 L
4.2 quarts
14 L
14.8 quarts
Measured Capacity (volume) 41.9 L
44.3 quarts
49.1 L
51.8 quarts
45.1 L
47.7 quarts
4 L
4.2 quarts
14 L
14.8 quarts
Capacity (cans) 57 cans 72 cans 63 cans 6 cans 16 cans
Method of Cooling Thermoelectric 12V compressor Thermoelectric Thermoelectric Thermoelectric
Advertised Achievable Temperature Range (F) 40ºF to 130ºF -4ºF to 50ºF 40ºF below ambient and up to 135ºF 40ºF below ambient to 149ºF 32ºF to 36ºF below ambient and up to 140ºF
Acceptable Ambient Temperature Range (F) Not specified 50ºF to 109ºF Not specified Not specified Not specified
Exterior Dimensions (D x W x H) 15" x 22" x 16" 21" x 27.5" x 14" 16" x 21" x 17.25" 10" x 7.25" x 10.5” 19" x 10.5" x 11.6"
Interior Dimensions (D x W x H) 12" x 17.75" x 12" 10.4" x 12.75"/6.4" x 17.25"/10.6" 12.25" x 15.5" x 14.5" 5.75" x 5.25" x 8" 12" x 8.5" x 6.6"
DC Cord Length (feet) 4' 10" 7' 9.75" 8' 10" 6' 3.5" 8' 11"
AC Cord Length (feet) 3' 11" 6' 4.25" (AC adapter only)
14' 7" (DC and AC adapter)
6' 11" (AC adapter only)
15' 11" (DC and AC adapter)
5' 8" (none included)
Comes With AC cord, DC cord (both permanently attached inside lid) DC cord, DC to AC adapter and cord DC cord AC cord, DC cord, USB cord (3' 1") DC cord, extra fuse
Features Cord storage, drain/plug, wheels and pull handle, heating ability Eco power-saving function, internal light Heating ability Top handle, heating ability, USB power cord Cord storage, heating ability, cup holders

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - side-by-side testing of thermoelectric coolers. from left to right:...
Side-by-side testing of thermoelectric coolers. From left to right: Koolatron, Knox, Igloo.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Temperature Control


Running without ice, as it's designed to run, the Knox doesn't do an amazing job at cooling its contents. During our testing, it only reached about 25º F below ambient. It also didn't reach as high of a temperature as the other thermoelectric coolers we tested did, topping out at about 103º. However, the Knox monitors its own heat, turning off at certain times to avoid internal damage, whereas some others have to be manually unplugged every 45 minutes instead.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - arrive at the potluck with your dish still piping hot!
Arrive at the potluck with your dish still piping hot!
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Insulation


The thermoelectric models in our lineup performed similarly in our insulation testing, though the Knox didn't wow us even among a group of low-performing contenders. However, we think this unit feels like one of the best-built models we tested — much more sturdy all around. The wheels and handles feel decent, and the lid is thick, with a secure-feeling closure. Even the little fan components on top seem pretty solid.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - the knox has sturdy hinges and feels well-built, aiding in...
The Knox has sturdy hinges and feels well-built, aiding in insulation AND longevity.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Energy Consumption


The Knox is one of the most energy-efficient coolers we tested. It draws just 46.1 Watts of power while cooling, which is quite a bit less than the monstrous 62.3 Watts the Koolatron takes (which is more than half the compressor coolers!) It runs off even less power in heat mode, drawing just 39.0 Watts. If you plan to run this in your car, we think this is an important feature.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - this cooler has the most energy efficient normal mode of operation...
This cooler has the most energy efficient normal mode of operation of any we tested.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


Firstly, this is one of the few thermoelectric coolers we tested to come with both DC and AC cords, and secondly, they're both attached helpfully inside the lid. This serves as both a storage area and an organizational feature. It also has a drain in the bottom — important for being able to augment with ice. The capacity of the Knox is significantly smaller than advertised. When it comes to internal organization, the Knox has a single small divider that can fit in just one of two places. Nothing fancy.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - a handy compartment in the lid holds both ac and dc cords, as well...
A handy compartment in the lid holds both AC and DC cords, as well as the switch between cooling and heating.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


Ding ding ding! We have a winner here, as the only cooler we tested with wheels! Wheels and a long handle to pull it with are excellent features of the Knox. And to boot, it's one of the lightest coolers we tested (especially for its capacity), at just 14.4 lb. While we love that this cooler comes with both AC and DC cords, unfortunately, both these cords are extremely short, at 4' 10" and 3' 11" respectively. But really, we enjoy the freedom that comes with those wheels.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - the knox is the only cooler we tested with wheels.
The Knox is the only cooler we tested with wheels.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Features


Though not as fancy as some of the compressor models, the Knox has a few features that make it a very user-friendly cooler. The heating feature helps keep take-out warm all the way home. The drain in the bottom is clutch for using it with ice, and the cord storage and handy cool/heat switch hidden in the lid are a nice touch. It is a bit noisy to run, though not the noisiest we tested by far.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - a single adjustable divider can be moved to one of two locations.
A single adjustable divider can be moved to one of two locations.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


The Knox is actually among the least expensive coolers we reviewed. Though you'll still need to purchase ice to properly use this cooler, its cooling properties will help to extend the life of that ice and still save money over time. We think that if this cooler is the right fit for your life, then it's a pretty good deal.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - for a portable powered cooler that's handy to use, try the knox!
For a portable powered cooler that's handy to use, try the Knox!
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Conclusion


Though it doesn't win any awards this time around, the Knox is a solidly usable powered cooler that adds just a little bit extra to your cooler game. Its cord storage is super handy, the wheels are fantastic, and the price just might be right. If you're okay with still using some ice, but are ready to take it up a notch, the Knox is calling your name.

Knox Gear 48 Quart powered cooler - keep food chilled or warm with the portable knox.
Keep food chilled or warm with the portable Knox.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Maggie Nichols
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